The second month of grief

As the second month after my husband died, rolled around, I was having a surprisingly difficult time. So were the girls. There was an unusual amount of irritability between them over trivial things. And we were being thrust into a life that felt foreign to us. Absolutely nothing seemed to be the way it was when Dan was alive. Grief/Loss Groups during the Second Month I joined a couple of grief groups. So far, this hasn’t changed anything, but it is a process, like all things related to grief. And, it has given me an opportunity to meet other people like me who are in a lot of pain and, like me, want to be able to cry with others who need no explanation as Read more…

a shift in perspective

Today we’ll continue to look at resilience and how when things get hard, we can bounce. We will look at 4 ways a shift in perspective can make a big difference in our lives as we face cancer (whether our own, or cancer in the life of a loved one). Avoid seeing crises A shift in perspective doesn’t mean going into denial or sticking your head in the sand like an ostrich (which by the way, they don’t actually do). It just means that you reserve crisis mode for a real crisis, rather than situations that might someday turn into a crisis. Some people are natural worry warts. They do what a former pastor of ours called horriblizing. They find the drama in every situation Read more…

grieving flowers

everyone grieves differently, but people grieving often have a lot of similar experiences and feelings as they go through the process. This is a snapshot of my first month. The first month after my husband died was awful. I’d just lost my best friend, the person I did everything with, my business partner. We were together 24/7 and we loved every minute of it. Then, suddenly, he was gone. Maybe not so suddenly, since we had 6 1/2 years of cancer before he died, but it was still a shock to my system. Death always is. Trauma There was also a level of trauma that we all experienced, not just from the day of his death, but from all of the days that preceded it, Read more…

cancer survivorship tip

When people hear that my husband has survived for 6 years with stage IV non-small cell lung cancer they often ask me what our top cancer survivorship tip would be. So in honor of his 6th cancerversary, I have put together some of the best advice we have used and continue to use. Cancer Survivorship Tip #1 Get Educated I don’t mean that you should read articles filled with pseudoscience. You should find out exactly what kind of cancer you have and what the newest and older treatments for this cancer are. How can you expect this cancer to affect your life in the near future? One of your best resources will be your oncology team. That brings us to the next tip… Cancer Survivorship Read more…

Supportive Connections

What is resilience? It’s our ability to bounce when we come up against something tough, like cancer. Will we bounce like a rubber ball, or like a tomato? I learned a lot about resilience at the 2018 Breath of Hope Lung Foundation’s Lung Cancer Summit. Perhaps my greatest takeaways came from a talk delivered by Dr. Jeffery Kendall. PsyD, LP.[1] Dr. Kendall delivered a keynote address entitled, Resilience and Hope for Survivors & Caregivers. In the next few weeks, I am going to share a few of the things I learned from this inspiring message. I’ll start today by touching on the first key ingredient to a resilient life: supportive connections. The impact of supportive connections on cancer survivors and caregivers can’t be overlooked. Yet Read more…

Paperwork

Are you familiar with the different types of paperwork you should have in place when you have an illness like cancer? Today I’m going to give an overview of some of them and how we approached things like healthcare directives, wills, powers of attorney, and the POLST. Healthcare Directive Back in 2012, my husband filled out a healthcare directive. This paperwork has many names and is commonly called a “living will.” I recommend that everyone have a healthcare directive and that they fill it out while they are healthy. If you wait until you are sick, it is far more difficult to do because you will feel far more emotional about it, and likely overwhelmed. Because doctors had just diagnosed Dan with a terminal illness, Read more…

Fear and Guilt

Dan and I first met one another in a Sunday school class ten years ago. We had both been through painful divorces, so starting over was a bit scary. Still, it wasn’t long before we knew that we were meant to marry. It was a whirlwind romance! All too soon, we would find out that even the best of marriages can be invaded by fear and guilt, especially when you are facing cancer. This is a story I’ve shared before. It bears repeating because fear and guilt are things that most people struggle with, including those of great faith. Our friend, Rick Back in 2009, The bus company that Dan worked for offered health insurance to its employees, but the policy premiums were too expensive for Read more…

Book Review

Recently, my sister-in-law gave me a gift, the book “Tear Soup,” by Pat Schwiebert and Chuck DeLkyn. Many people had recommended it to her as especially helpful for talking about grief with children. So, last night, I read it to my 3 daughters, ages 15, 17, and 20.  It gave all of us some time to reflect on what we are all going through in the wake of my husband’s death, without the awkwardness that often accompanies digging deep into your emotions and baring your soul. Meet Grandy The story follows Grandy, an older, “somewhat wise” woman who has suffered a great loss. To deal with this loss, she makes tear soup. Tear soup is a beautiful metaphor for grieving, which is carried through the Read more…

Grief in Children

This past month, I’ve been working on getting my upcoming book Facing Cancer as a Parent: Helping Your Child Cope With Your Cancer, published. At the same time, we have been trying to navigate our children through yet another setback in their dad’s cancer journey. There is a section of the book which focuses on grief in children. Because of what we are going through, this section of the book was especially difficult to write and edit. It was also especially important. What is Grief? “You may associate grief with the death of a loved one, but any loss can cause grief, including the loss of a relationship, your health, your job, or a cherished dream.” (Help Pages.org Grief and Loss) Most people think that Read more…

talk to children about cancer

It’s important to talk to children about cancer-even with a “bleak” prognosis. My husband, Dan was stage IV, metastatic, when he was diagnosed. So, we have always been told that his cancer was terminal and that we were buying time. The best we could hope for was that he would be labeled NED, No Evidence of Disease (like remission). It’s especially difficult to talk to children about cancer when you are given such a bleak prognosis. Our Story One year into his treatment plan, Dan was declared NED (having no evidence of disease). This is a term used to describe what people think of as a state of remission in certain types of cancer. It means that the cancer is still there, it’s just too Read more…

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